Archive for the ‘History’ Category

“Human beings must be known to be loved; but Divine beings must be loved to be known.”
Blaise Pascal

Imagine if society as we know it were to completely crumble, ravaged with war, along with our complete loss of technology. Countries would soon begin to crumble; social unrest would cause unimaginable destruction. Lets take our imagination exercise further; during all of this chaos and destruction, only 5-10% of the human population survived. All technology and anything related to it is gone, and very few things such as books, paintings, or structures remain. Being resilient creatures it is only logical mankind will slowly start to re-build.

Everything we know today would be a distant memory. Soon future generations would have no idea what “The Mona Lisa” looked like, or in some cases didn’t even know it had existed. Now imagine if the Bible and all other religious scriptures had been destroyed in the mayhem. With every passing generation the concept of religion as we know it today would have all but disappeared. It would be foolish not to factor in the 5-10% of those who survived, for arguments sake lets say there was no one dominant believe system among the survivors. The people who survived each carried with them one of our many different theological beliefs, but no religious doctrine survived.

Let us continue down this rabbit hole of imagination and say a few Greek Mythology books survived the downfall of man (Yes I am aware this can be considered theology, but I include it only because unfortunately it has been downgraded to “mythology”.) Future generations would logically begin to worship Zeus, and the many other Gods behind said “mythology” and believe this to be religious fact. Even if these books did not exist it is possible for a new generation to create a completely different religion based on the remnants from the downfall. Of course these remnants would be added to with stories passed down from generation to generation.

I feel it is impossible to have a society without the driving force of religion; whether it is to calm fears or to control the population. Religion although perverted and corrupt is a necessity; eventually new religions would be formed to meet these needs. Imagine if the book “Moby Dick” survived the collapse of man. All it would take is one charismatic individual to start preaching the “religious” lessons contained in this book, and just like that a new religion is born. In time as other books are collected they are added to the “Holy Scripture.” Let’s say “Huckleberry Finn,” “Hamlet,” and “The Lord of the Rings” also survived. These various works of fiction are then woven together in a collection of stories to form a new Bible, and out they go to preach the Word, promising life hereafter in Middle Earth.

People are hardwired to need religion in their life, if this were not the case religion would have died out long ago as man discovered science and logic, because of this primal hardwiring they would latch onto this with all their might, replacing, refuting, and stumping scientific and logical advancements. I am sure whoever put this “Bible” together would take some liberties and add their own material just like the Catholics did when choosing which books to include in the Bible. This new congregation would set out to spread the gospels of William Shakespeare, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mark Twain, and Herman Melville, murdering all those who believed differently then they do. In time this religion and its created deities would become reality.

Now here is my question. If all of these things were to actually happened, then does the God of the Bible now cease to exist? If no one knew what a Bible even was, would the God of the Bible come down and start interacting with humans to show us he still existed? Although God made a promise he would never do it again, would he burn then flood the entire world only leaving one family to partake in incest to rebuild the world? If we look at history there have been many different religions that people have blindly followed. As time passed newer, cooler, more convenient, and better suited religions for social control became dominant. Causing all of the long forgotten deities (sorry Zeus) to be left behind and forgotten.   

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My intended focus this week was to break down, analyze, and apply my methodology to three single events with the intended outcome of making the correct choice. Do I stay or do I go? I have repeatedly replayed the same haunting moment of seeing my son still and quiet on his bike as he watched me get in the car to go to work. In that moment I could see in his eyes the internal conflict between acceptance and denial that his dad is slipping away. I could see and understand all too well the sadness he was trying so bravely to hide.

It is difficult for me to release my sadness and sorrow through the shedding of tears. The only time the outside world can see what I try so hard to hide, is when I cannot hold back my tears. At that moment, just as in this moment writing about it I cannot stop the tears. Many people say that crying is supposed to be this wonderful release of pent up emotions. It’s not like that for me. Tears feel like razor blades running down my face, slicing through self-denial and exposing my weakness and vulnerability. Regardless of how many times I have been told I am selfish and only think of myself, at the end of the day my meaning in life, and my purpose is to not break his heart. I am well aware I will never win the father of the year award. To be honest with you I don’t even know if I’m a good father. Despite what I am told I know I have always tried to be the best dad I could be.

After the series of events that took place yesterday, or would it be considered today? I haven’t slept for days so time holds no logical meaning. After said events the only answer to my opening question; is to go. There are only so many pieces someone can be broken into before they are unable to be put back together. I now need to come to terms with the sobering reality that I will become in my own eyes everything I ever swore I wouldn’t. I will become my fathers son. I am desperately seeking, yet fear I will be unable to live with the guilt, or forgive myself.

Children are not stone, nor are they steel. They are dirt and clay, molded by the hands of experience. There is no way to reconcile the loss of my son’s happiness and hope due to the harsh reality of my life, which I have viciously infected upon my family. Despite my frequent mental transformations I made the decision to get married and have children; in that single moment I destroyed their lives. I suppose I was caught up in the perceived human need for significance, by my own sense of insecurity. Here is where I cannot deny my selfishness. Broken dolls are meant to walk alone.

In moments like this I want to hide within the minds of Soren Kierkegaard and Albert Camus covering myself in the blanket of Absurdism. Believing all struggles for life is for nothing. There is only birth and death, and everything in between is our feeble attempt to find meaning and purpose. This concept is wonderful, but in the back of my mind I’m burdened with this question. What if birth and death were only two points, that they were inconsequential compared to what happens between them?

“Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”
Napoleon Bonaparte

I sometimes try to think about what our lives would be like if we had no religion. Would chaos and anarchy rule supreme without some spiritual moral compass to guide us? Would we as a civilization just instinctively know how to treat our fellow man, or do we require a “reward” in exchange for our good behavior. This is a hard question to answer since the concept of religion is engrained in every man, woman, and child in existence. This will continue to be the case till end times, so we are for better or worse stuck with religion.

I often times write and speculate as to why religion was created in the first place. I have two theories which I feel answer this age old question. The first being the fear of the unknown and unexplainable and the second being social control. I personally think religion was first created to subdue early mans fears, but then when the slightly more intelligent man realized how much influence it had on the masses he transformed it into a form of social control. Since this discovery; generations of generations of people have fallen victim to the soothing swan song of religion.

I have always wanted to write several books on the topic of religion, and one such idea is building a religious timeline; starting from the very first religion all the way up to where we are today. I would track the origins and expansion of said religions. I figured I wouldn’t get too detailed I would just provide the basics of each religion. One detail I would touch on is the impact the featured religion had on the civilization. There were about eight other things I would cover, but are not pertinent to this post. I started this project last year, but when I was faced with the grand scope of the project I decided to shelve it until/if my “Dylan Thomas” books took off.

I really cannot think of one thing other than religion which has had a bigger impact on human existence. Religion although sold as a ticket to salvation and as a guide on how to properly treat your fellow man, it has also been a tool to control the masses. The rulers of old used religion as a tool to give the masses some spiritual guidelines. These guidelines were necessary to keep order, and the people who were being ruled feared for their life hereafter, so they fell in line with their spiritual leaders. We can look out in the world today and still see religion being used by political leaders.

In reference to this specific quote I think we need to look at civilizations through history. I wrote about such a time period a year ago when I touched on the alliance between Rome and the Catholic Church. This was a time when there were two classes the rich and the poor. The rich Romans during this time had the power and influence of the Catholic Church on their side. They parlayed this influence to socially control the people. They fed the fear of hell into each and every one of them, so the thought of standing up against their repressors equaled eternal suicide into a lake of fire. I am not too familiar with Napoleon time period but I would be willing to bet it resembled the time period I wrote about. I think I may just have to read up on this a bit.

The poor will only stand so long being the class which is shit on for so long before the people realize they out number the rich and decide to take over. Religion is the perfect tool to keep social order amidst such repression. I think this point is illustrated even in today by studying some of the countries in the Middle East. In America religion is still a dominate force, but I do not know the extent of social control it has today. I suppose it keeps the religious nuts focused on salvation instead of murdering and having sex with small little woodland creatures. I suppose in this case religion is doing something worthwhile.

“I believe there is something out there watching us. Unfortunately, it’s the government.”
Woody Allen

How much do you think our government monitors our daily lives? How much power do you feel our government should have over us? When the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (USA PATRIOT ACT) was passed many people were freaking out because this new bill allowed police to search your home or car without your consent, wire tap your phone, go through your financial records, and monitor e-mails all without a warrant. In the few cases which required a warrant the authorities could obtain a warrant from any judge in any state, thus authorities can cherry pick judges they know will make decisions in their favor. This means that if I live in Minnesota and the authorities want to begin monitoring me they can obtain a warrant from South Carolina and in order for me to fight this I would have to appear in a South Carolina court! Many people believed this act is pushing our society closer to a “big brother” state. I suffer from paranoia from time-to-time so naturally I am not in favor of this act, but the rational side of me says “if I am not doing anything wrong then who cares?”

The following is my paranoid point of view: I believe the government orchestrated the September 11th attacks to allow the government to gain more control over our daily lives, and create justifications to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. The people in power had everything to gain if we went to war, and these people made billions of dollars off government contracts. A perfect example of this is Halliburton, which made billions off such contracts, and as we all know Dick Cheney is CEO of this company. They were so crooked many of the contracts they received were listed as no-bid contracts. The United States has transformed into a tyrannical government, and this bill allows them to monitor all citizens to ensure we are staying in line.

In the beginning our country was based on the people having the majority of the power then the state, and finally the federal government. Over time there has been a shift where the federal government now holds supreme power over its states and citizens. Having the ability to monitor everything a person does is in direct violation of our fourth amendment. I do not like the idea of my personal life being violated by anyone, let alone the American government. It is my opinion that the government holds way too much power over the people, and this act just gives them more power.

The following is my rational side: The September 11th attacks were perpetrated by a large organized terrorist unit aimed at shaking our country into panic, thus showing us we are not safe in our own boarders. The government in response to this terrible attack realized they needed to keep a closer eye on what is going on in this country to prevent another attack. The PATRIOT ACT was not put into place to monitor normal citizens just those who the government perceives as a possible threat to national security. This act also gives local authorities the ability to fight crime in a better way. This act was put into place to protect us, not to spy on us.

So there are my two view points. There are some days I am paranoid and some days I am rational. Even on my rational days I still feel like this whole thing was perpetrated by our government. I am not a huge fan of the PATRIOT ACT. I think it gives the government more liberties to invade on our privacy. The Act dramatically reduced restrictions on law enforcement agencies’ ability to search telephone, e-mail communications, medical, financial, and other records. I think if the authorities charged to protect our country are on point they can stop any future attacks, without needing this act. It is my understanding the ball was dropped on the September 11th attacks. Intel was ignored causing the attack to be carried out.

I brought up in this piece that I think the government was behind the September 11th attacks. Even if our government was not directly involved in the attacks I believe they knew the attack was going to happen, but ignored the Intel so the attacks could be carried out. I go back and forth on this conspiracy theory. I know the Bush administration wanted to go to war, but could not gain public support. Even after the attacks not many were in favor of a war without proof this country was directly involved in the attack, because of this the Bush administration lied about weapons of mass destruction to deliver fear into our hearts, thus making war more appealing. I know there was a shit load of money to be made if we went to war, and those in power benefited greatly from this war. I think our government is as devious as they come, and I am prone to think there is an alterative motive behind most things they do. I would really not put anything past them, and I do believe they are capable of doing such a thing. I think this is just another step towards supreme rule over our country. Whether we transform into a socialist or communist state is up for debate, but mark my words either in my life time or my children’s life time our country will change so dramatically it will be a shell of its former self.

My theory and many others on why religion was created is because the fear of death and the unknown. Ever since man developed complex emotions, and were then confronted with the realization of death and the knowledge of what a hardship is; they needed to construct something that would ease their fears and give them peace of mind in a chaotic world. These forefathers of religion created sun gods and moon gods. They worshipped these things because they had no concept of what they were; all they knew is somehow these two things had massive affects on their daily lives. I would also like to quickly point out that many civilizations did rituals and prayed for rain. They had no concept of how rain worked so they tacked it on to their religious beliefs. Not only did the earliest man need explanations for things they didn’t understand; they also needed to find something to ease their fears of what happens to you when you die. This fear of the ultimate unknown is the sole reason we have religion today.

It takes a strong individual to live their lives knowing they will somehow cease to exist. I know all to well this is a heavy burden to bear. We all want something more to believe in. We all want to somehow feel special. We all want to know somehow we will live on. These are the key driving points for the construction of faith. To illustrate this point I would like to quote a comment from my post “Religion and Anxiety-Reduction Theories.”

“If God and religion are all man-made constructs and there is nothing after this life, then why bother?”

I think this comment illustrates my point perfectly. I have grown to admire this reader’s thoughts and opinions and in no way am I saying she is weak. She was most likely raised to believe this. I do however think this shows a small chip in the armor of her faith. I have heard this comment before, and usually follow with “Is this your driving force to believe?” I tend to stump people on this point because it forces them to re-evaluate their beliefs. If they believe simply because this is the only way to give life meaning, or the only way to quell their fears of death then their faith is flawed. In essence their belief acts as a band-aid to cover up the deeper fears they have inside. We bother because it is our moral and ethical duty to improve the lives of our fellow man. We are here to cultivate a positive way of life for other generations to come. We do not need religion to dictate us to achieve these things; we only need to look into our hearts.

Religion has evolved over time, but every religion is built upon one another. With each new version declaring they are the only version. The concept of a virgin birth was described well before Christianity was created. For example the birth of Buddha was described as a virgin birth in the “Nidanakatha”

“The Brahmans said, ‘Be not anxious, O king! Your queen has conceived: and the fruit of her womb will be a man-child; it will not be a woman-child. You will have a son. And he, if he adopts a householder’s life, will become a king, a Universal Monarch; but if, leaving his home, he adopt the religious life, he will become a Buddha, who will remove from the world the veils of ignorance and sin.'”

This is but one example;virgin births were also described in Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Mithra, Mithras, and the Greco-Roman Mythology. This is by no means the complete list I am sure it goes on and on. In addition to this Muslim, Hinduism, and Taoism also have stories of a miraculous births. The one I find most interesting is one that precedes Christianity and Judaism the ancient religion of Persia “Zoroastrianism.” In this religion it not only describes a virgin birth, but it also has the messiah, death and resurrection, a final battle between good and evil, and the resurrection of the dead to stand judgment. This and others are perfect examples to describe the evolution of religion.

Creation stories, miraculous births, the death and resurrection of a messiah, and end times are all parts of every religion past and present. Each and every religion is just built upon one another. With each new edition religion evolves into something different than what it was before. Religion is like a fable passed on from generation to generation. In a sense it is like playing telephone, with each new generation the original concept gets changed and turned into what we have today. I feel there have been no new changes to religion because we live in a society that does not allow a change to happen. Everything is set as is, and everyone knows what is on the table. Trying to change a religious concept via word of mouth is simply just not possible. Those who try ultimately end up being defined as cults. In the end the purposes to believe in religion are all the same. We ask the exact same questions are ancestors asked, and we share their same fears. We cling onto religion because it just makes sense. We tend to look at other religions and judge them compared to our beliefs. We turn our nose to them claiming we are right, and their beliefs are silly. I am just as guilty of this as they are.

I came up with the quote “conceived in the weak” not because I am calling the religious weak. I am illustrating how our beliefs at their core are because of our fears. I think I am the perfect example of this. Right now I consider myself as being weak, because I have lost the strength to accept the reality of nothingness. Once this fear crept into my conscience I immediately sought out religion to ease my fears. I am searching for answers to questions which cannot be answered. If I were to latch on to Christianity to make myself feel better I really wouldn’t be a Christian because the only reason I am a Christian is because I fear the great unknown. I would be a fake; a liar, and a coward. I desperately need to find faith, but I am hindered by my reasoning and logic. Perhaps all my new religious readers who have offered me guidance are the sign from God I have always asked for, but perhaps it is all just a coincidence. These are the questions I ask myself. I ask them because of the intense fear inside of me. Perhaps God is placing this fear inside of me, and delivered me my readers to bring me to God, but perhaps the fear is there because death is really f’ing scary.

If we did not fear death, if we did not fear the unknown, if we didn’t need to see the light within chaos there would be no need for religion.

“The greatest power is not money power, but political power.”
Walter Annenberg

Personally I do not agree this statement to be true. The power today is in who has the most money, and who is paying our politicians. It is the money infiltrating our elected officials which fuels the machine we call democracy. I wrote a piece months back asking the question if we are Plutocracy. I believe we are. I think when Annenberg first took over his fathers publishing business in 1942 this may have been a true statement. In today’s world money supersedes political power. I would guess most if not all of our politicians are in the pockets of corporations and special interest groups. This my friends is a sad state of affairs. I feel sick to my stomach knowing decisions are being made not in the people’s best interests, but in the best interests of those who possess the most money. I feel appalled that the people of this country have just sat back and allowed this monstrosity to occur. 

I have no idea when this trend changed. I know the change occurred prior to my birth in 1979. If I were to make a guess I would say things started to change and the rich started to seize our country during Nixon’s presidency. I have no concrete proof of this it is just a hunch. If you look at Annenberg’s bio you will see in 1966 he used his media business to sabotage a political campaign. If it were not for his media outlets reporting untrue negative things about Milton Shapp he most likely would have won the election. The reasons Annenberg started this early example of a smear campaign was because Shapp was opposing the merger between Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central. His reasons were not known until after his death when it was revealed that Annenberg was the biggest individual stockholder in Pennsylvania Railroad.

I think this example shows how powerful media outlets are, and who owns our media outlets? Corporations do. During election time we are bombarded with positive and negative things about the candidates many of which are not true on either side. I remember during the healthcare deal. The media (probably paid by insurance companies) aired many commercials against Obama’s healthcare reform bill. These smear commercials greatly affected how the people felt about this bill. I think the meer mention of socialism really killed the momentum Obama built during his campaign. Then you look at those who cast the votes and you can be guaranteed they are making decisions based off of who is paying them the most money; sadly it isn’t the people. The heartbreaking part is people do not take the time to try to find the truth they just believe what they are told by their televisions. We missed out on something that would have help millions upon millions of struggling Americans get affordable healthcare. Now it looks like the current bill may actually cause problems, instead of correcting them, unfortunately these problems favor the insurance companies not the American people. Isn’t it amazing what money can do?   

Walter Hubert Annenberg (March 13, 1908 – October 1, 2002) was an American publisher, philanthropist, and diplomat. He owned several publications such as TV Guide, Seventeen, The Philadelphia Inquirer. In 1966, Annenberg used the pages of The Inquirer to cast doubt on the candidacy of Democrat Milton Shapp, for governor of Pennsylvania. Shapp was highly critical of the proposed merger of the Pennsylvania Railroad with the New York Central and was pushing the U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission to stop it. Walter Annenberg, who according to his New York Times obituary, was the biggest individual stockholder of the Pennsylvania Railroad, wanted to see the merger go through and was frustrated with Shapp’s opposition. During a press conference, an Inquirer reporter asked Shapp if he had ever been a patient in a mental hospital. Having never been in one, Shapp simply said “no”. The next day, a five-column front page Inquirer headline read, “Shapp Denies Mental Institution Stay.” Shapp and others have attributed his loss of the election to Annenberg’s newspaper.

I just finished reading “Billy Budd” by Herman Melville. It was a good book, although at times was rather dry to read. The one appealing part of this book to me was the moral dilemma it called to order. Melville challenges his readers by asking; which is the right decision; choosing between what is morally right and wrong based off emotion, understanding, and compassion for your fellow man, or should society’s laws dictate to us what is right and wrong, regardless of our emotions; all in the name of order. This was the central struggle behind this book.

“Billy Budd” was Melville’s last book, and was written the year of his death in 1891. The story takes place in 1797 on a British navel ship the Bellipotent. The main character Billy Budd was an uneducated, simple and just man. He was well liked and respected by his peers on the ship. His superior officer Claggart was the one man who despised Billy for his gentle nature and popularity among the men. Claggart in an attempt to frame Billy accused him of attempted mutiny in front of their Captain. Billy unable to express his feelings in words became frustrated and hauled off and punched Claggart; he ended up dying by the blow. Captain Vere assembled a military tribunal to proceed over the trial with Vere as the sole witness. The internal struggle Vere and those presiding over the trial caused me to question my moral opinions.  

The struggle Captain Vere went through in testifying against Budd was interesting in that there appeared to be no struggle at all. Yes he felt emotional over this because he was fond of Billy, but knew that military order came before any emotional feelings. The feelings of those who presided over the tribunal were not as cut and dry as Vere’s. They believed Billy to be a morally sound man who although made a mistake, was acting justly considering the circumstances. They had compassion for Billy, and for the situation he was in. Vere on the other hand was very matter of fact in his stance that military law reigns supreme in this issue. He expressed to the tribunal that he two felt bad that Billy was on trial but was also the main person who convinced the tribunal to convict Budd of this crime.

Veres stance was one of this; had the trial been a non-military trial then the jurors could afford Billy the compassion and mercy he deserves, but since this is a military trial then compassion and mercy do not apply. Billy had either done it or not. Since Vere had witnessed the crime, and Billy had admitted to it then there was no room for discussion. Billy must be sentenced to death. He feared if Budd was not convicted and word got out about his acquittal then the integrity of British military law would be under minded. Vere could tell the men standing over the tribunal were having a difficult time with this decision, and therefore pleaded to them.

Seeing this and knowing what was at stake Vere made one final speech to the officers. He said “but the exceptional in the matter moves the hearts within you. Even as mine is moved. But let not warm hearts betray heads that should be cool. But something in your aspect seems to urge that it is not solely the heart that moves in you, but also the conscience, the private conscience. But tell me whether or not, occupying the position we do, private conscience should not yield to the imperial one formulated in the mode under which alone we officially proceed?”  He made the argument that it is human nature to feel for a man who they see as right with God, but called to their attention the buttons they were wearing. He said “do these buttons that we wear attest that our allegiance is to Nature? No, to the King.” In the end Budd was convicted and hanged.

This story holds many different outlooks on morality. In one hand you have Budd who was a good man with good morals who accidently committed the most immoral crime one can commit. In this scenario is Budd a good or bad man? Well this is tough. It is not as though Budd killed a man in self-defense. He killed a man out of anger, because he was not properly educated enough to express complex emotions. In this scenario you could say this was a crime of passion, because it was fueled by anger. I think Budd is guilty of the crime, but I disagree with the punishment. I feel the only time murder is warranted is when it is in self-defense. This should be the only exception to the rule.

Next you have the officers presiding over the tribunal. They wanted to give Budd a non-guilty verdict because they believed he was a just man who was right in God’s eye. There compassion reigned over their duty. They knew what kind of man Claggart was, and believed he had it coming to him. They also understood the severity over the accusation of mutiny, which by its own standards also carried a death sentence. There desired decision was to hand down a not guilty verdict. They truly struggled with this decision. The question is if judges used personal feelings in deciding sentencing then the whole system becomes less about justice and more about personal feelings. Can we afford to live in such a system? This is a tough question for me because there are some crimes I think do not warrant such harsh penalties and others I think are not harsh enough. This is a slippery moral question to answer.

Finally we have Captain Vere, who I believe holds the key dilemma of morality in this story. Should he be condemned as an evil man because of his abstract notion of duty blinded him to true justice and compassion? Or should he be considered a hero who rose above sentiment to meet the need for order, authority, and law in human affairs. I battle with this question because I think there is a huge grey area in-between that is hard to quantify. I think your own personal answer will show what side of morality you are on.

American exceptionalism is an American theory that the United States occupies a special role among the nations of the world in terms of its national ethos, political and religious institutions, and it’s being built by immigrants. Even though its origins date back to the 1600’s the concept still lives on today. This mode of thinking is what has damaged our reputation throughout the world. The concept that we are better than all other nations because as Alexis de Tocqueville, argued; the United States held a special place among nations because it was the first working representative democracy. We may have been the first but we were not the last. I am sure there are some out there who could have a valid argument how a later form of democracy trumps ours. Belief in American exceptionalism is more characteristic of conservatives than liberals. Which being liberal to me makes the idea seem even worse.

Parts of American exceptionalism can be traced to American puritan roots who believed in divine providence. They believed God had made a covenant with their people and had chosen them to lead the other nations of the world. The scary thing is; there are those republicans out there who still believe such a thing.  If we take a look at the Latin phrase on the back of the great seal and our one dollar bill it reads “novus ordo seclorum” which translates as “New Order of the Ages.” I think our republican leaders at that time and still to today would want nothing more than to spread their form of “order” to the entire world, and become the nation God has chosen to lead the world.  

Proponents of American exceptionalism argue that the United States is exceptional in that it was founded on a set of republican ideals, rather than on a common heritage, ethnicity, or ruling elite. In the formulation of President Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address, America is a nation “conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal”. In this view, America is inextricably connected with liberty and equality. We may be connected with liberty (although this may be up for debate) and equality (also up for debate.) The notion of republican ideals against the ruling elite? Isn’t that a bit oxymoronic?

The United States’ policies have been characterized since their inception by a system of federalism and checks and balances, which were designed to prevent any person, faction, region, or government organ from becoming too powerful. Some Proponents of the theory of American exceptionalism argue that this system and the accompanying distrust of concentrated power prevent the United States from suffering a “tyranny of the majority.” What I find interesting is we are protected from the “tyranny” of the majority, but we do nothing to protect us from the “tyranny” of the minority.

All countries probably believe they are exceptional in their own right. Britain at the height of the British Empire, Nazi Germany, as well as the communist state Russia, and France in the wake of the French revolution all demonstrated exceptionalism in terms of systematically engaging in what they considered benevolent enterprises. I believe although broken America is one of the greatest nations in the world. Do I believe we should feel superior over all other nations because we are what we are? No. We are not the judges and jury’s to the world. The belief and ideals we have are fantastic, but are these ideals better than say Norway’s? We could look at Norway or Iceland and say they are exceptional over us because of their low crime rates and penchant for staying away from wars. Does this make them better than us? In my eyes it does, but I cannot speak for a nation of people, nor should anybody else. It is fantastic to have pride in your country, but this pride should not stir up supremacism. I have always believed America should keep to herself. Trying to find nations we believe should be a democracy then enforce said beliefs by military force is wrong anyway you look at it. This concept that America is exceptional above all other nations is the exact way of thinking that caused other nations to hate us.

A while ago I wrote a post about my current projects. Since then a few things have been finished and a few of my projects have been altered, because I am a shameful promoter I would like to give an update on my progress. Things have been progressing nicely although there are some tedious things causing me to dread the process. Feedback is always needed.

Dylan Thomas: This is a children’s book series written in poetry form. The goal is to create stories which appeal to ages 2-10. I want the rhyming and lush drawings to not only draw the kids in, but also make the stories enjoyable for the parents as well. I have completed the first story “Dylan Thomas: Finds His Courage.” Currently it is in the illustration phase and will be released the end of September. I hope to have the next installment “Dylan Thomas: Bedtime Songs” I hope to have this available for sale by February 2011 or sooner.

This series is probably the only way I will make any money from my writing, and hopefully this series will help me land a literary agent. The stories will follow the same flow as far as the rhyming poetry, but the illustrations will change. I think this is exciting because it will keep things fresh. The illustrator Jeff Chia has one more page to complete, and my sister Cailee is doing the editing. I hope to have everything but together by September 1st. This will allow me a month to ensure everything looks good on the actual book. I am a quarter done with the next installment.

Yin; A poetry chapbook chronicling my dark side. I have already finished this book, and should be released before November 2010.

This is completed with all poems in my journal. I just need to type and edit. I hope to have this out by November. I will either sell “Yin” and “Yang” separately or combine them into one book. If I were to combine them into one I would set it up where “Yin” is on one side and “Yang” on the other. I am planning on setting them up as pocket books.

Yang; A poetry chapbook chronicling my light side. I have already finished this book, and should be released before November 2010

Politico; Working Title This poetry chapbook focuses on my political and theological perspectives. This book is also finished with an expected release date before November 2010.

This book will contain my political, philosophical, and theological points of view. There is a website called Politico, so I am unsure if the name is copyrighted or not. If it is I will have to get their blessings to use their names. There were plenty political poems in “My Descent into Madness,” and seemed to be well received.

The Mind of a Madman: (working title) this is a novel written in poetry form describing the inner workings of a psychopath in the making, and his journey into madness, starting from the time of conception up until… the rest will be a surprise. This has been a difficult book to work on, the places these poems take me is very dark. If I spend too much time there I may become a product of my words.

I have been all over the place in writing this one. I am jumping around to different phases of the main characters’ life. I am planning on telling this story strictly in poetry form or if I should add some narrative to it. This is taking longer than I expected, because I can only stay a short time in this mans mind.

The Philosophy of Me: The life and mind of no one special: This will be a book based off 365 days of my blogging entries. This will appeal to my fans wanting all my entries in print, and introduce the site to new readers. I will also use this as part of my portfolio.

I received an e-mail from a reader saying she would purchase this even though it is just an edited version of my blog. I suppose if one person would enjoy it than others may as well.

My Journey Through Taoism; This will include every verse from the Tao Te Ching along with my quest into understanding and living the Tao. Many books are written by experts. I hope to relate to readers who are new to Taoism by explaining my journey seeking understanding. At the end of each chapter I will be including a poem based off the verse. I do not want to rush this; so I am unaware of a release date 

This will be written in real time chronicling my quest into understanding Taoism. This book is the reason I stopped adding verses in my blog. I don’t want too many books to cross pollinate. I am enjoying this project because I can spend a few weeks working on each verse which will really bring me closer to the Way. In writing this in the perspective of someone seeking the Way it may help others understand it better and assist them on their journey. 

The Humor In Theology; I was originally going to write a descriptive timeline and the evolution of religion. I realized this book would only appeal to a certain audience. I was becoming overwhelmed with the mighty scope of this project. I decided to stick with the theology aspect but instead write it in a humorous way. I think this will be informative as well as funny.

I changed this from a serious educational book into a comedy. I will look into religions of the past and current beliefs and point out the goofiness of what people believe. There is a religion in Africa which believed their God vomited up the entire universe. This is just one of the silly beliefs people hold onto. It is amazing how people completely abandon logic in the name of faith.

The Philosophy of Quotes: Everyone loves quotes, and it seems each person may walk away with different perspectives on the meaning of these quotes. This book explains my philosophical view on the meaning of quotes. I hope to turn this into multiple volumes; each volume will be broken down by letters of the alphabet. I am excited to take a deeper look at my favorite quotes. 

I thought I would enjoy this one, but I have been running into a little bit of frustrations. My mind will not shift into this mode, which is holding this bad boy up.

Deceived: (working title.) This book examines how the Christian religion has allowed itself to be destroyed by the word of man. I have read the Bible a number of times; once because of faith, once as a theologian, and once as a skeptic. You would be amazed how much the bible has been changed to not only create copyrights, but to change the original meaning of the “Word of God” to fit mans needs. This book will be written entirely on a non-biased theological way looking strictly at the Word.

If I want to properly do this one I will need to focus 100% of my attention on it. I will need to simultaneously read three to four separate versions of the Bible. I started this awhile back and read the first couple chapters of Genesis, and it made my head hurt. I really think this project has potential, but with the amount of time I have to work on my writing it would take a year or two and I am not sure if I want to make that type of commitment on something which may not reap what I sowed.

On a side note I have thought of releasing my poetry books with commentary as far as what I was feeling and the meaning. I tend to write in abstract ways and I have had people tell me they get lost in finding the true meaning. I just wonder if this is sacrilegious with poetry because poetry is meant to be subjective to the reader. I am worried my poems may lose some of its luster if I add commentary. On the flip side some of my dedicated readers may care enough to know the story behind the poem.

What are your thoughts? Do you think I may be wasting my time with some of these books? I am starting my quest today to find an agent and I wonder if they want to see complete projects or is a concept enough to wet their whistle.

I started an eight part series on the Seven Deadly Sins. I made the argument that the Seven Deadly sins were a man made list; created to control the people who were under the control of the Catholic Church and the Roman Empire. I admit there are paths which cross between the Catholic Church’s Seven Deadly Sins and the Ten Commandments such as wraith or lust, but I chose to focus deeper and find a diabolical plan to control the simple minded peasants. I was reading the Book of Proverbs, and came across something which throws my theory right out the window. I have no choice but to admit I am wrong.

Proverbs (6:16-24)

6:16 These six things doth the LORD hate : yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

6:17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

6:18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

6:19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

6:20 My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:

6:21 Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.

6:22 When thou goest , it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest , it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest , it shall talk with thee.

6:23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.

6:24 To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.

This may not be the exact list presented by the Church, but the message is the same. I cannot blame the Church for preaching such things. Another list of bad things, given this time by the Epistle to the Galatians (Galatians 5:19-21), includes more of the traditional seven sins, although the list is substantially longer: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, “and such like”.

The only way I am able to stick to my argument is if these books were added or altered by the Church. They had control over which books made the Bible, as well as the translation. I feel the concept of hell, was a man made addition to the Bible as a fear mongering tactic. I wish I was around during this time to watch this process. I feel like the message I am receiving when I am reading the Bible is a distorted one; straying away from the original meaning.

These types of man made changes are happening today, which is what inspired me to begin the book “Deceived.” I have learned from listening to my father preach; there are many things which have been changed not only through the written Word, but also the messages being preached by television sermons. The three which stick out most is there was never meant to be a separation between Christianity and Judaism, and the changing of the Sabbath, and the teaching we are saved by grace not works. I am reading 3-4 separate versions to find other teachings which have been altered over the generations. I would recommend to the Christians out there who attend church to read the KJV after a sermon and compare it to the Word. I would love to hear stories from you on things you have found.

What do you think?